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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Distribution and origin of peptide-containing nerve fibres in the rat and human mammary gland.

The structures in the mammary gland involved in milk ejection have been investigated with regard to their relation to different types of peptidergic nerve fibres and their origin. Lactating rats were studied with immunohistochemistry focusing on the nipple, the parenchyma, the mammary blood vessels and the mammary nerve. The human mammary gland was also analysed. In the mammary gland from rat and human, nerve endings in the subepidermis, around smooth muscle cells in the nipple, in the connective tissue surrounding lactiferous ducts and alveoli in the nipple and in the parenchyma of the mammary gland showed immunoreactivity for calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, peptide histidine isoleucine, neuropeptide Y, galanin and tyrosine hydroxylase, whereas dynorphin-positive nerve fibres could not be detected. The mammary nerve contained calcitonin gene-related peptide, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, neuropeptide Y and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivities; the adventitia of the mammary artery contained nerve fibres immunoreactive for neuropeptide Y and tyrosine hydroxylase, while vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-, peptide histidine isoleucine-, calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-positive fibres were found in the tissue surrounding the artery. The wall of the mammary vein had nerve terminals immunoreactive for neuropeptide Y, tyrosine hydroxylase, calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P. With the help of retrograde tracing using wheat germ agglutinin in combination with immunohistochemistry, projections of calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive cells in the dorsal root ganglia to the nipple were established. Neurons in the sympathetic stellate ganglion containing neuropeptide Y and tyrosine hydroxylase also projected to the mammary gland. Moreover retrogradely-labelled cells were found in the nodose ganglion, and they were vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive. These results demonstrate a rich distribution of different types of nerve fibres in structures of the mammary gland related to milk ejection. These nerve fibres and their peptides may be involved in the local control of milk ejection.[1]


  1. Distribution and origin of peptide-containing nerve fibres in the rat and human mammary gland. Eriksson, M., Lindh, B., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Hökfelt, T. Neuroscience (1996) [Pubmed]
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